Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Strange things I have seen this week

1) George Galloway and entourage strolling through Globetown on the Respect prowl; I, star-thwacked by anything remotely famous that moves, smiled at him and got a louche wink and a burred 'how're you doing?' back. Tee hee. He is an opportunistic buffoon, of course, but when it comes to oratory skills there are few better. He'd make a fine stage actor, belting out heather-burnished polemic on the stage of the Globe, or maybe on tv. The new Trisha! He'd sort those whey-faced ratlovecheats out.

2) A mad old woman pushing one of those creepy toy dogs (the cretinous black-faced fur balls, like the one who cast his satanic spell over - I mean won - Crufts the other year) along in a pushchair down Bethnal Green Road. The woman was struggling. The dog looked very relaxed.

3) A very odd support act to the fair-to-middling avant-rockers Battles at Dingwall's in Camden last night. Battles, with their line-up of 3 guitars and drummer (with one cymbal propelled high into the air reminiscent of a Christian Marclay installation), had just a too-sonically-limited palate, though I'm always forgiving of anyone who plays in 9/4 or 6/8 and 3/4 alternately. They were preceeded by the peculiar Hot Club De Paris, a jerky angualr trio who lashed out 1-minute long post-punk numbers, whooped maniacally at the end of each one and only impressed me when they sang in perfect three-part folk harmony, with hilarious lyrics like 'i'll love your teeth in/i'll love your limbs off/ i love your crutches/you painted them pink yourself'....

Happy birthday to my newly-specced love by the way!!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

the long good friday to monday

april 17th

Level of conviction in own genius: 8
Amount of creative activity achieved today: 1 hour
Hair day: adequate though am contemplating flash of shocking flamepink to make primary school collectively gasp in horror

This long Easter weekend has shaped up marvellously, stretching gracefully over four days and packed to the gills with vibrant activity...

Friday was indeed Good, with a quick visit to Victoria Park's lush secret garden, complete with balletic squirrels and birds in four-part harmony. In the evening my visual wiz partner-in-artcrime Harry took me to the Lyric, Hammersmith to see an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean graphic novel 'The Wolves are in the Walls', which proved to be a zippy musical with audacious set design and puppetry. Brill.

On Saturday, I reminded myself why I used to love Soho, drinking mid-morning Earl Grey, eating brioche and reading the New Statesman (ok, pretending to the read the New Statesman whilst admiring my glamorously intellectual reflection) in Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street alongside the old Italians and cutely-coiffed gay men. Andy and I then fought our way into the V&A's 'Modernism' exhibition, where I learnt that the bad things to come out of it were Nazism's and Facism's twisted adaptation of the aesthetic and the good things were the later rejection of straight lines in favour of responding to organic forms found in nature and some kick-ass tea sets.

We topped off Saturday with a mosey down to the coolest joint in town (so says Time Out and they are the gospel in all things London): the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club. Oh yes. Just off the beaten track enough to lose the city types and Shoho ponces, we were there for Viva Cake, a hilariously off-the-wall night of 50s music, Lindy hop class and free tea and cake served by roller-skating waitresses, and mingled with the old-school locals from the still-very-working-men's-club bit downstairs. A fun, unprentious night, complete with bizarre (and not terribly good, admittedly) dance troupe of ladies dressed as stewardesses.

Having demanded one trip to the beach before my hol was up (my recent afernoon in Scarborough with ma not really counting seeing as we cowered in the car whilst a snowstorm tried to force the windows open), we hopped on the train to Whitstable for a quick fix of salt air. We ticked all the boxes, eating fish and chips on our laps whilst the grease soaked through our jeans, traipsing over the breakers and pebbles to the weathered huts down at the far end, having tea and organic cake, proving artistic worth by spotting founder of Stuckism and previous squeeze of Tracy Emin, Billy Childish, inventing games involving the re-creation of film scnees using beach debris (I got very wet during my Jaws effort), jotting some poetry and writing some on stones for people to pick up later. And all this while the sky, a cloud canvas, practically screamed 'WATERCOLOUR ME! WATERCOLOUR ME!' and the sea was silvering milk.

Switching from quaint coastal towns to knife-edgy East London in one fell swoop, we danced away Sunday at the slightly-perturbing Favela Chic (done up, apparently, like a shanty town - yeah, we're like, poor and Brazilian! and blowing our last thousand centavos on beer!) at Batamacumba's night, decent if ending with some tropical funk with, strangely, the bassline from Grease's 'Summer Nights'. Hhm.

Phew. Feeling like we were somewhere into Thursday afternoon, having lost track of the days completely, we took it easier today, lunching at the utterly wondrous Grapes pub in Limehouse, an ancient, dark-wooded pub that reminds me of my fabulous York local the Blue Bell with its perfect mix of old crazies and relaxed Indie-reading new Londoner types. Plus a fab view of the iron-glittering river. Then went to the Docklands museum, chiefly to see the lovely 'Unquiet Thames' photographic exhibition but also to soak up the history of the area. Whilst I acknowledge that this city thrives on change, it seemed sad when walking back through Westferry to see the streets named so evocatively after the trades that buzzed there (Ropemaker's Walk, Butcher's Row) now labelling blocks after blocks of city-boy flats, and the river so unpopulated by boats. Things move on, but you wonder what happened to the older 'islanders' who got quietly pushed aside in favour of the towers of Mordor now gleaming blindingly into the sky.

Now, duck, lentils, wine, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, and hopefully a six-week sleep which thus allows me to bypass school summer term part one and arise refreshed for half-term high jinks. Well, a girl can dream....

Monday, April 03, 2006


april 3rd, 2006

Current level of conviction in own genius: 8
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Hair day: not looking as snappy as it should for a £40 chop in an organic hairdresser’s in Shoreditch

Have upped the live music stakes this week, having been to four gigs so wildly varying they might well have taken place in opposing corners of the globe – well, not everyone can say that in 6 days they’ve taken in a Canadian post-artrock outfit, a harpsichord in a club, a beatboxer who can perform entire Daft Punk songs and a MOR sub-Radio 2 country singer in Driffield.

1) Bell Orchestre at the ULU was a wondrous, ear-glowing experience. Comprising octopus-like drummer, double bass, violin, horn and trumpet, the brass started by disorientating us completely by playing acoustically amidst the audience, and the band swiftly followed with a set of innovative, jazz/folk/rock-inflected genius. The use of melodeon through a hosepipe, bass knocks on the wood and almost entirely col legno bowing, percussive typewriter and whooping horn harmonics lent a quirkily avant-garde edge, and the build-up of Reich-esque riffs, angular time signatures, the blurred virtuosity of the players and some kick-ass rocking out sent me to heaven and back. Euphoric. I am viciously anti-illegal drugs at the best of times, but seriously people, the best music does it all for you…

2) Jane Chapman at Cargo. In the second of the Sound Source series, which aims to bring contemporary music into funkier venues, we were greeted with the bizarrely innocuous sight of seeing a harpsichord perched primly on the stage of Cargo in Shoreditch. It was a mildly odd night, with some very cute and funky pieces in there; however, some of them seemed very slight and the audience was a mixture of subdued harpsichord enthusiasts (glaring at me for laughing very loudly at a genuinely funny number) and your usual 20-somethings. Still, it gives juice a few more ideas as to how to make ours work for yes! We are the next in the series on May 30th!!!

3) Mr Mouth and 7 Seconds of Love at Cargo. Again. We were there to see friend Ed do his dancing-drummer thing in previously-blogged about comedy ska-punk band 7 Seconds, but were wowed by the 3-mouths-in-one beatboxer, a self-consciously styled geek who could sing Michael Jackson songs whilst chewing over the beats, used a loopstation and then upped the stakes by accompanying his jazzy keyboard riffs with a mouthy beat. Gift of the gab indeed.

4) Up in York for juice’s second recording session for Roger Marsh’s Pierrot Lunaire on NMC, I put up only mild resistance to go see Mum’s favourite singer, John Wright, with her in Driffield. It was Phoenix Nights, East Riding style, all the way here – crammed into the back room of the Blue Bell pub, last decorated in 1959, I was surrounded by septuagenarians sipping half-pints of Tetley’s, all swooning at the boxy-suited, mullet-haired sleazemeister up front. Wright, delivering trite covers of country, folk and soul numbers, makes my old student Katie Melua look on the teetering edge of avant-garde. Granted, he had a lovely fiddle player, I quite enjoyed the bagpipe-wielding support act who sang comedy songs about women golfers with large breasts, and appreciated the light buffet of cheese-and-onion sandwiches and sausage rolls handed round in the interval by buxom lasses. Still, I think I prefer the capital’s offerings to gigs accompanied by the sound of the fly-zapper on the ceiling snapping and crackling at regular intervals….

Have been whipped up in a whirlwind of creative activity, what with working on our websites, succumbing to the Murdoch-lorded (cue sound of bandwagon screeching to a halt to let juice and I clamber on), embarking on a new career using a covert identity that shall maybe revealed later, and being creative consultant and assistant model for the new art/fashion venture UP YOUR ART taking place under our E1 roof. I am currently sporting an apple-green t-shirt emblazoned with ‘AVANT-HARD’. Oh yes. Well, in these East London parts, you have to create new identity as fashion-designing/DJ-ing/artzine Shoho type to avoid getting trampled underfoot by pairs of Victoriana-heeled poetry punks whilst being beaten to bits with piles of obscure 1960s underground-country-disco records.